IIIM Jammu to conduct first ever study of ‘Cannabis’ in India

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh delivering keynote address at the conference on "Cannabis R&D in India", at New Delhi on Friday.

New Delhi, November 24: Indian Institute of Integrated Medicine, Jammu, in collaboration with Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai will conduct a landmark study on cannabis.  At a one-day conference on “Cannabis R&D in India” on Friday, Union Minister Dr Jitendera Singh said the government had granted a license to IIIM Jammu for the cultivation of cannabis for medical research and drug development.

Dr Singh said, Cannabidiol (CBD) has its therapeutic indications in the management of excruciating pain in conditions like Diabetic Neuropathy, cancers, besides its potential indications in children with epilepsy and sickle cell anaemia.

Possibly the first of its kind, the study is to explore the potential clinical benefits of ‘marijuana’— a medicinal plant, which has been surrounded by controversy, owing to its global abuse as a habit-forming substance of addiction.

Three major science administrators in India — The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Council for Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnolgy — are getting together to promote the research in herbal drugs.

“CSIR-IIIM Jammu has been given the responsibility of undertaking this study because the institute specialises in herbal and medicinal plants and has a legacy of undertaking pioneering research in the field ever since the time of its founding father Sir Ram Nath Chopra,” Singh said.

Marijuana (or hemp), more formally parts of the cannabis super-family, is illegal for commercial cultivation though it grows as weed in several parts of the country. Uttarakhand, Jammu and — as of this month Uttar Pradesh — have allowed restricted cultivation of the plant for medical research.

Pointing out that there was a very thin line between the use and abuse of a drug, Singh said that while therapeutic uses of the drug would come to the rescue of needy patients, its misuse would be prevented and regulated through appropriate legislation and law enforcement agencies.

Dr Ram Vishwakarma, Director CSIR-IIIM, Jammu, in his address, said that Cannabis has a historical and cultural linkage in India and is found in abundance in parts of J&K, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. He profusely thanked Dr Jitendra for facilitating the permission to IIIM Jammu for cultivation and medical research on Cannabis. He informed that after the conclusion of the trial of the drug, the next step would be to explore the feasibility for permission to use it in clinical practice.

The studies into the therapeutic potential of marijuana is part of a larger governmental thrust to making new drugs derived from herbs and plants that find mention in Ayurvedic and other traditional-medicine knowledge systems.